What Is Noom and Is It Healthy?

The pros and cons of this weight-loss app.

a photo of Noom on a phone
Photo: Courtesy of Noom

Anyone who's tried losing weight knows it's easier said than done. That's why so many people flip-flop between diets trying to figure out how to lose weight sustainably. Yet, a subscription-based app and coaching platform called Noom uses behavioral science to help people track their food intake and exercise habits to achieve weight loss and improve their health.

You've likely heard of Noom, and may be wondering, what is it and is it right for me? Read on to find out from registered dietitians exactly how Noom works, what you can and cannot eat, whether it's healthy or not and the pros and cons of this popular weight-loss app.

What Is Noom?

"Noom is a program that uses psychology-based programs to help people make changes to their eating and lifestyle habits," explains Kelsey Lorencz, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition advisor for Zenmaster Wellness. "The idea is that people will learn how food affects the body and how to make better choices." The app is designed to change how you think about food and approach eating, not just tell you what to eat and when, like most other diet programs. Noom's pricing options vary based on monthly subscriptions. Most users start with a 4-month subscription priced at $159, which works out to $39.75 per month. The monthly subscription fee will give you access to a comprehensive weight-loss program that provides mini-lessons, personal coaching, food-intake tracking tools and other techniques for helping you make long-term, sustainable behavioral changes.

What Can You Eat?

While Noom boasts that their program has no dietary restrictions (meaning no foods are off-limits), they do have a system that places foods into orange, yellow and green categories based on caloric density. The orange category includes foods that are high in calories. According to the app, these foods should be portion-controlled, such as red meat, full-fat dairy, processed foods, desserts, olive oil, nuts and peanut butter. Enjoy yellow foods in moderation, such as avocado, salmon, chicken, turkey, beans, tofu, whole eggs, tempeh and low-fat dairy. Green foods are nutrient-dense, meaning they're low in calories yet filling, such as most fruits and vegetables, oats, quinoa and whole-grain bread.

Is Noom Good for You?

Many factors should be taken into account to determine whether or not Noom is a good option for you. For instance, a study published in Scientific Reports in 2016 looked at Noom's success rate in helping people lose weight and maintain a healthy weight afterward. Researchers collected data from 35,921 participants who downloaded the app between 2012 and 2014 and found that 78% of participants reported a decrease in body weight while using Noom.

However, while Noom can serve you in the short term by helping you change your eating habits and practice mindful eating, some experts recommend against using weight-loss apps like Noom. "A strict diet protocol, or labeling foods in any way, isn't a healthy practice. Most people who use weight-loss programs or apps end up undereating and tarnishing their relationship with food," cautions Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., RD, a registered dietitian at Bucket List Tummy. "When we view food as 'calories,' 'orange, yellow or green' or 'good or bad,' we take the enjoyment out of eating."

The science backs up Schlichter's statement. Several studies, like a 2020 systematic review published in PLOS One, have linked eating pleasure to better nutritional status, healthier food choices, enhanced quality of life and lower rates of depression. Unfortunately, relying on diet apps and planning your meals in terms of calories can take away from the pleasure derived from eating, leading to a poor relationship with food and higher stress levels around dieting in the long run. But, like any diet and weight-loss program, Noom has its benefits and drawbacks.


Eating more whole foods, as Noom encourages its users to do, is rarely a bad thing. Up to 80% of chronic diseases are preventable with simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, per a 2022 publication in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and many lean proteins, fall within Noom's green category, and focusing on these is a great first step toward a healthier diet and/or weight loss. Also, a Noom subscription will grant you access to certified health coaches who offer support and a psychological approach to eating. This approach lets you focus not only on your weight-loss goals but also on eating mindfully.


Noom is an expensive commitment. Priced at $60 if you choose to pay monthly, Noom costs more than what most people are willing to spend on a weight-loss program. Also, some users may find the app's language derogatory. With coined terms such as "scanxiety" (scale anxiety) and "MoaWLKET" (mother of all weight loss-killing environment triggers), the app's language could potentially cause issues for those who struggle with emotional eating or food triggers. "Noom's practices don't teach people how to be flexible with food choices, tune in to their body's wisdom, or understand how individual nuances—such as family history, chronic disease, exercise or metabolism—can affect a person's individual nutrition needs," explains Schlichter.

In addition, the psychology-based approach to weight loss doesn't work for everyone, says Lorencz: "Some people have used Noom and developed disordered and unhealthy eating patterns. Even though Noom claims no foods are off-limits, categorizing them as orange and alerting you if you overeat them can create anxiety around that food, leading to a cycle of restriction, bingeing and increased guilt around food."

The Bottom Line

While Noom has cemented its place in the online world as a go-to app for helping people lose weight, it may not be the best approach for people with a history of disordered eating or those looking to establish a healthier relationship with food. Noom can help you achieve your weight-loss goals in the short term, but weight loss isn't synonymous with health.

Ultimately, the key to healthy weight management (and a healthier lifestyle) is cultivating a better relationship with food—one where you eat intuitively, don't restrict yourself and understand how to nourish your body while enjoying what you're eating. Diet alone won't improve your overall health. The best way to thrive and achieve excellent health is to combine a well-balanced diet with other healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise, stress management and getting enough sleep.

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